Yesterday was a beautiful day and I found myself walking through High Park, feeling like I was 100km away from the city. The sun's rays were massaging my skin and I breathed in the saturated aroma of assorted flowers and a campfire nearby. I paused in my footsteps and realized I was feeling a bit nostalgic. For the first time since I'd arrived in Toronto, I was missing home. The only thing I was missing was the sound of crashing waves against the shore and the smell of sea salt.
Near the campfire, kids were singing and playing games and then it really dawned on me; it wasn't just home I was missing - it was camp. It's the first summer since I was nine years old that I'm not counting down the days to when I start packing to escape. It's the first summer in three years that I'm not spending my entire summer making bracelets, canoeing, singing campfire songs every night, and working with seven people who quickly become my best friends.
Camp is a memory I'll always escape back into triggered by the smell of sunscreen lotion, campfire, chicken noodle soup, pine trees, sea salt, and that musky smell your clothes get when they've been wet and lying on the floor for awhile.
Camp is a memory I'll always escape back into triggered by the sound of birds chirping much earlier before the sun rises, the laughter and chit-chatter of a crowded cafeteria room, the crick-crackling of a campfire burning, and the summer peeper's singing in the nighttime.
Initially, I thought I was completely comfortable with not going back to camp. I was ready to say goodbye and was confident that my last summer working there would be my last. But now, I find myself wanting to escape back into that place; I'm not just accidentally stumbling upon the smells and sounds, but I'm desperately seeking for them... hungry to tightly hold onto the happy memories that significantly shaped the person that I am.
It's because of camp that helped me realize the importance of holding onto your inner child. I realize life is too short to take seriously all the time and I take no shame in being reluctant to let go of that inner child. My friends here in Toronto laughed and asked if I was a child while I bought a few packages of Hubba Bubba chewing gum. We spent the following few hours roaring in laughter and snapping pictures as we blew bubbles as big as basketballs, watching and hoping that they'll burst all over the others' faces. I constantly tell them that "you're never too old to be a child again". As we grow older, we tend to mature and forget how easy it was to fall into the world of play. I remember the satisfaction I got as I child while I played with my barbie dolls and plush puppies. As we grow up and change, our interests and ideas of "fun" evolve and change. I'm not saying we should all haul out our old trunk of barbie dolls and other such toys, but I'm saying we should learn to embrace our inner child in different ways - in new and adaptive ways.
Do yourself a favour and go buy an outrageous flavour of Hubba Bubba bubble gum and chew away. They've changed the gum since we've been kids, you know?